Digital Single Market and the Future of Europe - Meeting Chancellor Merkel, President Hollande and President Juncker

28 September 2016

Press Statement by Benoît Potier, ERT Chairman

Berlin, 28 September 2016

As Chairman of the European Round Table of Industrialists, let me start by thanking Chancellor Merkel for inviting us today, with President Hollande and President Juncker.

The construction of the Digital Single Market is a key example showing how European co-operation can bring benefits to all.

Benoît Potier
Benoît Potier
Chairman and Chief Executive Officer
Air Liquide

Watch the video of the press statement (in FR):

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Europe is facing challenging times.  As leaders of major European industries, we believe that we should continue building on Europe’s strengths to reinforce the European Union.

The EU should aim to become the most attractive proposition for a peaceful society, social cooperation and economic wellbeing.

To do this, the EU needs to deliver on growth, jobs and security.  This requires the strengthening – not the weakening – of the internal market, adjusting rules where necessary and completing the free movement of goods, services, people and capital.

The construction of the Digital Single Market – which we will mainly discuss tonight – is a key example showing how European co-operation can bring benefits to all.

Europe should strive to achieve a global leadership role in the digital revolution by swiftly implementing an EU-wide harmonised framework, and by setting up standards for the digital single market.  This will boost the European economy, make it more competitive and create new jobs across all sectors.

Digitisation brings new opportunities for innovation and for the deployment of new technologies.  Europe – as an innovation-driven economy – should grasp these opportunities and turn them into a real competitive advantage for its companies.

Let me emphasise the particular role of entrepreneurs, start-ups and small companies, along with large companies, in the digital transformation.  They are a vital part of Europe’s industrial fabric.  They contribute to innovation in industry and are essential for creating the next generation of industrial champions in Europe.  

Europe must increase its efforts to create more start-ups, facilitate their ability to grow and – importantly – to keep them in Europe.

With respect to the UK leaving the European Union, ERT Members believe that it is crucial to keep the UK as close as possible to the EU Single Market given its geographical location and the UK’s importance as part of an integrated value chain.  It will also be discussed this evening.

Europe cannot afford a standstill for its economy and its citizens.  Other economies are progressing and will challenge us.  We want Europe to remain an attractive place to invest, study, work and innovate, as well as to manufacture and market its products.  

As business leaders we believe Europe priorities, beside security, are to complete the internal market, to make our education system ready for the future, and to release investments in new technologies, in particular in cleantech, medtech, as well as in telecommunication, energy and digital infrastructure.

To achieve it, building credible long-term relations with our main trading partners is critical, together with a modern competition policy, which takes into account the global dimension of the economy.

The European Round Table of Industrialists is ready to work with governments and policy-makers to make it become a reality now.